Seeking Silence

“What you seek is seeking you.”

Silence calls to me.

There’s an oxymoron for you.

Here’s another one: Thomas Keating says that silence is “God’s first language.”

I automatically equate language with the spoken word and this is a mistake on my part. Language occurs in so many different ways such as body movement, facial expression, feelings. Sound is not required.

Noise is easy to find in the world. Noise happens with constant abandon. I have nothing against noise. It is very necessary. Birds call to each other to find their way. A baby cries in the night to signal to mother a need to feed. Without noise, we would not hear the approaching car, the cell phone ringing, or the announcement that our dinner order is ready. Noise helps us survive. But we need silence to distinguish between the various noises in our lives to give them meaning. If we did not have those precious seconds of silence, life would just be one huge cacophony of sound and nothing would make sense.  

The Quakers believe that God speaks to us in silence. Their unprogrammed worship is conducted in silence – they gather in communal stillness. No one speaks unless he or she feels moved to do so by God.

I am seeking some spontaneous silence . . . a time where noise falls away and makes room for the voice of God. Usually, that only occurs during a power outage and that just aggravates people.

When I sought out a way to learn to speak God’s first language – silence – I found Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is reminiscent of meditation. One chooses or asks the Holy Spirit for a sacred word as the focus of intention to consent to God’s presence. When distracted by thoughts (which also include feelings and body sensations) while in prayer, I return to the word to return to the place within me where God and I reside.

In his book, Manifesting God, Thomas Keating makes the important distinction that God is not separate from us. God is within us at all times and it is up to us to create this space, this fourth dimension within ourselves, where we can constantly communicate and live in the presence of God.

The call is not a noise or a sound. It is an urging, a pulling, a beckoning . . . like home waiting in the distance with a candle flickering in the window.

Dear Me, Be!

by Andrea Noel

Four years ago, I began writing these “Dear ME” messages on post-it notes, sticking them up around my house and cubicle at work. This practice was more than writing simple affirmations or wishes; it was my approach to manifesting a new way of being. After working as a chemical engineer for almost seven years, buying my first home, car, and travelling around and outside the United States, I recognized that I spent a lot of time doing things, but not much time being. I considered how I lived. I had accumulated material possessions, and even more digital photos, but could not feel those tangible emotions that give life deeper meaning. I felt empty inside.

I began reflecting on what does it mean to be? According to my iPhone’s mobile application, some synonyms for the word doing are action, performance, and execution; and synonyms for the word being are living, conscious, and substance. Doing and being are clearly two different states: I was definitely great at doing, but needed to work on my being. I also recognized that both doing and being are necessary parts of life. However, striking a healthy balance between the two is the trick to living a fulfilling existence.

So, I made the intention to find small ways to punctuate my doing with being, using the “Dear ME” messages as simple reminders. I began being more patient with myself and others. I learned how to be silent; listening for God and to those around me. I started to be more accepting of events and people; learning to let go and seeking less control.

After a few months I noticed that I smiled more, I rushed less; I even drove the speed limit more often! Then I explored bigger ways to be. I intentionally attended a retreat every three months. I began spending more time with family and friends. I also explored several contemplative spiritual practices to further cultivate my capacity to be.

Those around me began seeing the difference that the intention to be made in my life. My co-workers shared in my pleasant mood and enjoyed seeking my help with things outside of our job responsibilities. My relationships seemed to deepen in ways I had never experienced before. I also perceived that life in general began to respond toward me more compassionately.

The intention to be, more than to do, continues to transform my experience of life; I have more clarity in my life, a deeper sense of peace, better relationships with others, a well-integrated spiritual life, and I find it easier to compassionately share myself with the world. Every day I make the intention to be. Be love. Be joy. Be radiant. Be ME.

So, how have you been lately?